Dad pleads not guilty in death of daughter shot by constable

NEW BLOOMFIELD, Pa. (AP) — The father of a 12-year-old girl accidentally shot by a constable serving eviction papers pleaded not guilty Thursday to homicide charges.

Donald Meyer also asked the judge for a new lawyer during the arraignment. Meyer said he has a conflict of interest with his attorney but offered no further explanation.

Authorities have accused the 58-year-old Meyer of pointing a loaded rifle at Constable Clark Steele on Jan. 11. Steele fired a single shot in return, which went through Meyer’s arm and struck Ciara Meyer, who was standing behind her father. She was apparently home sick from school at the time.

“I hope we get justice and that murderer goes to jail,” Meyer told reporters as he entered the courthouse. He has blamed the constable for his daughter’s death. Steele has been cleared of wrongdoing and isn’t facing charges.

Meyer should have anticipated Steele’s visit to the apartment near Duncannon because the constable had been there “numerous times” about the pending eviction and had given Meyer a Jan. 11 deadline to move out, authorities said.

Court documents showed Donald and Sherry Meyer owed about $1,780 in back rent and court costs. State police said the family had not appealed the eviction order.

In Pennsylvania, constables are elected officials with limited law enforcement powers. They serve warrants, transport prisoners and perform other duties for Pennsylvania’s district courts, the lowest level of the judiciary.